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OPINION

Why The Igala Are Rooting For Gov Yahaya Bello

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As Kogi State holds governorship election on November 2019,  it is important to let Nigerians know the factors that led to the Igala and entire people of Kogi State’s love, support and acceptance of Governor Yahaya Bello in the forthcoming election.

This love was demonstrated in the just concluded APC primary elections with Governor Yahaya Bello clearing almost 90 per cent of the votes over other aspirants. Most of the aspirants are Igala. Some of the Igala aspirants never got a single vote from the delegates from their zone, rather the delegates voted for Governor Yahaya Bello.

In politics, acceptance by the electorate is key to ensuring victory, and that is what played out in the just concluded APC primaries in Kogi State. We all witnessed PDP primaries in the  State which can best be described as a display of ‘dollars primaries’ in which the highest bidder had his way. It was a clear demonstration of how the PDP’s past administrations in Kogi State looted the state’s resources.

The kind of money given to the delegates for just primary election was mind-boggling. This is a primary that does not guarantee victory in the main election.

The APC delegates voted for their choice and their choice was not influenced by money. A governor who is making all efforts to deliver dividends of democracy to his people at all level, and paying back huge debt inherited from the previous administrations cannot afford to give huge amounts of money to 4,000 delegates. The same PDP that dollarized its primary which led to the shooting of guns by the supporters of the aggrieved aspirants are the ones accusing Governor Yahaya Bello of sponsoring thugs to disrupt their primaries. This is quite unfortunate. PDP in Kogi State has been known from the outset as a party of violence right from their congresses at the ward to the state level. The accusation against the governor is therefore laughable and senseless.

Primary election is not the final victory for the party, therefore of what benefit would Governor Yahaya Bello derive from PDP primary elections? Is it possible for the governor to contest alone? The answer is no, there must be an opposition to contest with. PDP should be mindful of their utterances, as the campaign for the November governorship election kicks off in order to give peace a chance and to allow the electorate to choose their leader which has been agreed my the majority of the people of Kogi State to be Governor Yahaya Bello.

Back to the love, support and acceptance of Bello by the Igala in Kogi State. It is not a surprise the overwhelming love and acceptance of the performing governor by the Igala people. In Igala there is an adage that says, “to whom much is given much is expected.” Governor Yahaya Bello has done what so many Igala sons who have been ruling the state since its creation  had not been able to do for the benefit of the Igala Kingdom. Let me mention but a few; Completion of Igala Unity Conference Centre in Ayingba local government Kogi State, the Igala unity conference centre has been under construction for over 21 years with yearly funding raising, but apart from the little block work done in the past, nothing has been done again, it had been abandoned for over 15 years.

Even when the last governor of the state come from the particular local government where the project is sited nothing was done by him on this project. Here is a governor who is not from Dekina local government and neither  is he Igala by tribe, but he took it upon himself to complete the project and even added more values to the original plans of the building by adding hotel accommodation to the Centre which is today being used by all including the Igala born former governors who failed to complete the project during their tenure in office.

Bello has constructed roads across all the local government areas in Igala land. The most recent one is the Dakina-Anyigba road, which was totally destroyed by erosion. The same road has been abandoned by the immediate past governor who uses the road to his village, but never thought it wise to construct it, but Governor Yahaya Bello awarded the contract.

He also provided opportunity for Igala people to elect their choice as senator. The Igalas for the past eight years never had free hands in electing their senator for the Kogi East senatorial district. It has always been the Igala governors imposing a candidate  on them. The present senator representing Kogi East Isah Echocho a banker by profession, was called to contest governorship elections in 2012 and 2016 but after spending so much in the race, he was denied ticket by his then party, the PDP against the wish of the people of Igala land who love him so much because of his track records.

On assumption of office, Governor Yahaya Bello, having studied the leadership style of Isah Echocho and his passion to transform Kogi State for the betterment of all urged him to join the APC and contest for the senatorial position of Kogi East. Because of Governor Yahaya Bello’s track record of allowing the will of the electorate to prevail, today Isah Echocho is a distinguished Senator under the platform of APC representing Kogi East. This has brought joy to the entire Igala land because the people have their choice representing them.

Bello also has respect for the traditional institution and indeed Igala Kingdom. The recent appointment, upgrading and grading of traditional rulers in Kogi State with the Igala clan  having the highest numbers has gone a long way towards creating more love, support and acceptance of Governor Yahaya Bello, as most of them are long overdue for the appointment but the past administrations never had the courage to upgrade them due to lack of political will. Governor Yahaya Bello through the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs under the leadership of Engr. Abubakar Ohere ensured that the mission was accomplished.

 

– Bala, a social researcher and public commentator writes from Abuja

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